/ Thursday Jun 10,2021
11:00 am - 12:30 pm

The Anatomy of Density: Densification Advice for New York City's Next Mayor



Join the NYU Marron Urban Expansion Program in a series of four webinars to explore the increased importance of urban density and its attributes in cities the world over.

More than ever, urban density is at the fore of discussions of mitigating climate change, managing pandemics, promoting housing affordability and economic development, and protecting the countryside from further encroachment. There are calls for making cities denser, to increase the use of public transit, biking, and walking, and for containing urban expansion to force the densification of existing urban footprints. Yet densities have continued to fall over the past three decades, and densification advocates have little to show for their efforts. It is now urgent to understand how to turn the tide and advance a pragmatic densification agenda for cities the world over. This webinar series provides a new and deeper understanding of urban density and its critical role in shaping the destinies of cities in the decades to come. The series includes: 

Anatomy of Density

Densify and Expand  

Urban Densification in Practice 

Densification Advice for New York City's Next Mayor


Session 4: Densification Advice for New York City's Next Mayor

New York City is facing a serious housing-affordability crisis. Yet the pre-pandemic population projections for New York City and for its metropolitan region—which may need to be revised soon—estimate that, by 2050, as many as one million people will be added to the city’s population and three million to the metropolitan region. While the added metro-region population can be accommodated, at least in part, by urban expansion, the city, which is already fully built, can accommodate this added population only through densification of its footprint. The New York metro region is the most productive in the country—its GDP in 2019 surpassed $1.5 trillion—and making room for more people, in housing which they can afford, will make the United States as a whole more productive and equitable. But not making adequate room—by rapidly increasing the affordable-housing supply—will only aggravate this crisis. The dilemma for New York City is how to densify by creating many truly affordable housing units throughout the city without displacing residents or changing the character of neighborhoods, which, it turns out, is not so simple. It will be a central challenge to the next mayor, to be elected in November. And it is more difficult than simply tacking mandated “affordable” units onto luxury towers built in a few desirable locations. This webinar will bring together people who have concrete ideas on how to solve this problem and what the next mayor needs to do to make it happen, soon.

  • Angela Hawken, the Director of the NYU Marron Institute, will introduce the event.
  • Shlomo (Solly) Angel, Professor of City Planning at the NYU Marron Institute and co-author of "Anatomy of Density II: A Comprehensive Strategy for Making Room for City Densification," will introduce the topic within a comprehensive framework for strategic urban densification and introduce the participants.
  • Jessica Katz will speak on the topic. She is the Executive Director of Citizens Housing Planning Council (CHPC), that in December 2020 issued the policy brief, Basement and Cellars Regulatory Reform. Jessica joined CHPC from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, where she most recently served as the Associate Commissioner for New Construction. 
  • Roderick M. Hills Jr. will speak on the topic. He is the William T. Comfort, III Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law and the co-author (with D. Schleicher) of "Planning the Affordable City" and "Can Planning Deregulate Land Use?" He is also the co-author of a book, Land Use Controls: Cases and Materials.
  • Sean Campion will speak on the topic. He is a Senior Research Associate at the Citizens Budget Commission and the author of the August 2020 report, Strategies to Boost Housing Production in the New York City Metropolitan Area. His research focuses on housing policy, economic development, and municipal finance.
  • Barika Williams will speak on the topic. She is the Executive Director of the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD). ANHD’s recent blogs include "220,000 Tenants on the Brink and Counting" and "An Emerging Threat to Non-Profit Affordable Housing." Before joining ANHD, Barika served as the Assistant Secretary for Housing for the State of New York. 
  • Henry Grabar will speak on the topic. He is a staff writer at Slate writing on urban issues. His latest articles include "City Councils Are Villains of the Housing Crisis." Henry Grabar is a journalist who writes about architecture, real estate, transportation, and the environment. 
  • Alain Bertaud, Senior Fellow at the NYU Marron Institute and the author of Order without Design: How Markets Shape Cities, will summarize the presentations of the panelists and pose questions to them.  
  • Solly Angel will moderate a panel discussion among the participants.
  • Alain Bertaud will then introduce questions from the audience to the participants.